A BBC team tracking coronavirus misinformation has found links to assaults, arsons and deaths. And experts say the potential for indirect harm caused by rumours, conspiracy theories and bad health information could be much bigger.
The World Health Organization (WHO) is presenting a framework for managing the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) infodemic. Infodemiology is now acknowledged by public health organizations and the WHO as an important emerging scientific field and critical area of practice during a pandemic.
From the perspective of being the first “infodemiolgist” who originally coined the term almost two decades ago, the author posts four pillars of infodemic management:
- Information monitoring (infoveillance)
- Building eHealth Literacy and science literacy capacity
- Encouraging knowledge refinement and quality improvement processes such as fact checking and peer-review
- Accurate and timely knowledge translation, minimizing distorting factors such as political or commercial influences
A World Health Organization (WHO) technical consultation on responding to the infodemic related to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic was held, entirely online, to crowdsource suggested actions for a framework for infodemic management.
The first version of this framework proposes five action areas in which WHO Member States and actors within society can apply, according to their mandate, an infodemic management approach adapted to national contexts and practices. Responses to the COVID-19 pandemic and the related infodemic require swift, regular, systematic, and coordinated action from multiple sectors of society and government. It remains crucial that we promote trusted information and fight misinformation, thereby helping save lives.
This document includes key Risk Communication and Community Engagement (RCCE) considerations during shifting lockdown measures, safety measures for conducting in-person community meetings, and a template that brings both of these considerations together to help agencies adapt their RCCE approaches as these measures shift.
Appendices include key RCCE considerations for different community and humanitarian contexts, and free downloadable images and a flyer that can be used to promote safe community meetings.
All are invited to share either the live version or download a PDF version.
This article lists nine tips for staying calm and informed when hearing information about coronavirus.
The nine tips are:
- Does the story play on your emotions or present facts using neutral language?
- Is it too good to be true?
- What is the date of the story?
- Who is the author?
- Does the information come from a credible source?
- Does the story use or abuse data?
- Does it show causation or correlation?
- Does the story talk about cost and availability?
- Of mice or men?
This report provides an initial look at newly collected data on the emerging impact of the pandemic on women’s sexual and reproductive health (SRH) and reproductive autonomy in the United States.
It focuses on the following indicators:
- Childbearing preferences
- Contraceptive use
- Access to contraception and other SRH services
- Telemedicine for contraceptive care
- Exposure to intimate partner violence (IPV)
The authors conclude that even in the short period covered by our survey, the COVID-19 pandemic has already had an impact on women’s sexual and reproductive lives. It has affected their ability to obtain needed SRH care and contraceptive services, raised their concerns about affording and accessing this care and shifted their fertility preferences. These effects have not been evenly distributed and tend to be felt by groups bearing the brunt of existing inequities. In this way, the pandemic has illuminated systemic failings that perpetuate health and social disparities.
Very little is known about how factors like fear, misinformation, stress, and social norms are shaping behaviors that affect transmission of COVID-19. Even less is understood about what might lead people to ignore government recommendations altogether.
To fill in these gaps, a consortium of more than 100 behavioral researchers on five continents is currently working around the clock to measure the full social and material consequences of this pandemic. Our goal is simple: to demonstrate in real time what is working—and what isn’t.
The study is designed in three phases. The first consists of a 20-minute-long survey taken weekly that gauges how human beings are coping during this unprecedented crisis. Questions focus on individual thoughts, feelings, concerns and motivations, and how COVID-19 affects everything from faith in leaders to attitudes toward migrants. More than 45,000 people in 100 countries have taken the survey in 22 languages, and the study leaders are registering additional respondents every day.
An existing hotline in Cambodia has been scaled up for COVID-19 Digital Response, going from 500-600 calls per day to 18,000 calls on peak days. Roughly 75% of callers access the health education menu and 25% are reporting suspect COVID-19 cases/symptoms.
Cambodia CDC is using the hotline as a primary first point of contact for all potential COVID-19 cases in the country – surveillance officers have staffed up to answer calls around the clock, screen callers, and direct them to appropriate rapid response teams/contract tracing teams for verification and testing.
As testing is still very limited, this approach is helping them reduce the overall burden on the health system – trying to give people the education and screening they need remotely.
Expanding the 115 Hotline has allowed the Cambodian government to efficiently and effectively implement a response to the outbreak in their country. The ability to respond quickly, and reduce the burden of wasting critical time looking for or developing new solutions is just one of many.
This article lists several reasons for the success of the hotline.
WHO has reported that as COVID-19 continues to spread globally, over 117 million children in 37 countries may miss out on receiving life-saving measles vaccine. Measles immunization campaigns in 24 countries have already been delayed; more will be postponed.
Social media platforms have long been recognised as major disseminators of health misinformation. Many previous studies have found a negative association between health-protective behaviours and belief in the specific form of misinformation popularly known as ‘conspiracy theory’. Concerns have arisen regarding the spread of COVID-19 conspiracy theories on social media.
All three studies found a negative relationship between COVID-19 conspiracy beliefs and COVID-19 health-protective behaviors, and a positive relationship between COVID-19 conspiracy beliefs and use of social media as a source of information about COVID-19. Studies 2 and 3 also found a negative relationship between COVID-19 health-protective behaviors and use of social media as a source of information, and Study 3 found a positive relationship between health-protective behaviors and use of broadcast media as a source of information.
The conclusion of the authors is that, when used as an information source, unregulated social media may present a health risk that is partly but not wholly reducible to their role as disseminators of health-related conspiracy beliefs.
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